fDi Intelligence Quotes Wendy Cutler on CPTPP

Akin Gump senior policy consultant Wendy Cutler, who also serves as vice president and managing director of the Washington, D.C., office of the Asia Society Policy Institute, was quoted by fDi Intelligence for its article “The Biden Fix: CPTPP,” on the possibility that the incoming Biden administration could move to have the U.S. rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), from which Donald Trump pulled the country early in his term.

Cutler, who, while at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, served as chief U.S. negotiator for the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, thinks that, though the Biden administration may move to rejoin, she is not optimistic that the U.S. will do so in the early part of the President-elect’s term.

Pushback against rejoining, according to the article, could be strong, given the economic environment and post-election frictions. Cutler notes, “If we can address a lot of these economic anxieties, economic equalities and other concerns through domestic measures, that takes pressure off trade agreements.”

She does say that, in speaking with current and former trade officials from CPTPP, she has found great support for the U.S.’s return to the pact. However, given the abiding objections to the CPTPP’s predecessor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Biden will need to show the pact has improved from the U.S. perspective. “It will need updates, it will need revisions and some of those revisions may not be trade liberalizing,” she adds.

The challenge, Cutler says, for Biden is that, in requesting revisions, he may run up against the risks posed by political divisions in the U.S.: “There is no assurance who will be in the White House in four years, nor that they won’t tear up a renegotiated agreement. That will be a challenge for the Biden administration in restoring credibility and trust with allies and partners.”